Marketing research is the process of gathering information on a particular market, business, or subject to help in decision making.
Marketing research can be conducted through surveys, interviews, and questionnaires. Surveys are a common way to collect data from a large population. Surveys can be conducted by mail, telephone, or online.
An interview is a conversation with an individual or group of people in order to gather information about their thoughts and feelings on a topic. Interviews are usually done face-to-face but they can also be done over the phone or via email.
Questionnaires are used to gather information from individuals about their opinions on certain topics such as marketing campaigns, new products, and services etc. Questionnaires are usually sent out by mail with an enclosed return envelope for the respondent
The twelve stages or steps in a marketing research process are:
- Problem identification,
- Problem definition,
- Research design,
- Determining data needs,
- Determining data sources,
- Sampling design,
- Designing questionnaire,
- Field staff selection,
- Collection and processing of data,
- Analysis and interpretation of data,
- Project reporting and
- Follow up.
Now let’s discuss the above steps involved in a marketing research process.
1. Problem identification
The first step in a marketing research process is to identify the problem or opportunity. The problem may be about a decrease in sales, increase in competition, expansion of the market, etc.
2. Problem definition
The second step in a marketing research process is to define the problem. In this stage, the researcher must understand the problem correctly. He must find out the scope of the problem, the type of information needed, etc. If the problem is not defined properly, then it will result in a waste of time, money, and resources.
3. Research design
The third step in a marketing research process is to prepare a research design.
Research design is a plan for conducting research. It guides the researcher in data collection. It gives proper direction to the research.
There are three types of research designs:
- Exploratory research,
- Descriptive Research and
- Experimental Research.
All three types are used for marketing research.
4. Determining data needs
The fourth step in a marketing research process is to determine the data needs. The researcher must consider the following issues:
- Whether to use primary data or secondary data or both.
- The accuracy and reliability of the data.
- The availability of accurate and reliable data.
- The cost and time required to collect the data.
5. Determining data sources
The fifth step in a marketing research process is to determine the data sources.
The researcher decides the sources of collecting data. The two main sources are secondary data and primary data.
The researcher first collects secondary data. This is because it is easily available and less costly. It is collected by Desk Research. Desk Research can be internal for e.g. collected from company’s records or external i.e. acquired from libraries, trade journals, government sources, etc. If the secondary data is not sufficient to solve the marketing problem, then primary data is wheeled.
Collecting primary data is very costly and time-consuming. It can be collected by using survey methods, i.e. by doing personal interviews, telephone interviews, and mail surveys. It can also be collected by using the observational method and experimentation method.
So in this step, the researcher decides what source and what method to use for collecting data.
6. Sampling design
The sixth step in a marketing research process is of sampling design.
The Researchers has limited time and other resources. So he cannot contact the total population. That is, he cannot collect information from all the people in the market. Therefore, he selects a few persons from the population. These handful of persons are called sample respondents. They are considered to represent the total population. The researcher collects data from the sample respondents.
Sampling helps to save time, effort, and cost. It is used to collect primary data. The researcher has to decide about the method of sampling, the size of the sample, etc.
7. Designing questionnaire
The seventh step in a marketing research process is of designing a questionnaire.
In this stage, primary data is collected with the help of a questionnaire. So the researcher has to prepare a questionnaire. A questionnaire is a list of questions. These questions are asked to the respondents for collecting data. The questionnaire must be suitable so that the required data is collected easily, quickly, and correctly. It is used for conducting personal interviews, telephone interviews, and mail surveys. The researcher must decide about the type of information required, the type of question to be asked, the wordings of the questionnaire, its order, etc.
8. Field staff selection
The eighth step in a marketing research process is of selecting field staff.
After preparing the questionnaire, the researcher selects field interviewers. The field interviewers collect information from the respondents. They must be properly trained. Students of psychology and statistics are good for this job.
9. Collection and processing of data
The ninth step in a marketing research process is of collection and processing of data.
In this stage, the data is collected from the respondents. The questionnaire is used for collecting data. In the case of mail surveys, the questionnaire is sent to the respondents by post. In the case of telephone interviews, the data is collected through telephone. In the case of personal interviews, the data is collected by the field interviewers. The researcher can also use the observation method and experimentation method for collecting data. The data collected must be reliable and complete. It must also be collected quickly. Secondary data is also collected. The data collected is raw. It cannot be used directly. It has to be processed and organized neatly. That is, the data must be edited, coded, classified, and tabulated. Editing helps to remove unwanted data. Coding, classification, and tabulation make the data ready for analysis and interpretation.
10. Analysis and interpretation of data
The tenth step in a marketing research process is of analysis and interpretation of data.
In this stage, the researcher analyzes and interprets the data. That is, he studies the data very carefully and draws conclusions from it. These conclusions are then used to solve the marketing problem.
11. Project reporting
The eleventh step in a marketing research process is to prepare a project report.
In this stage, the researcher prepares the final research report. This report contains the title of the report, the method used, findings, conclusions, and suggestions about how to solve the marketing problem. The language of the report must not be very difficult. The report must be submitted to the marketing executives for recommendations and implementation.
12. Follow up
Finally, the last step in a marketing research process is to do a follow-up.
In this stage, the marketing executive makes changes in the product, price, marketing policies, etc. as per the recommendations of the report. Here, the researcher should find out, whether his recommendations are implemented properly or not. He should also figure out whether the marketing problem is solved or not.
So these are the twelve steps in a marketing research process.